ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan football team (No. 4 AP, No. 7 ESPN/USA Today) kicked off its 2003 campaign with a 45-7 victory over Central Michigan on Saturday (Aug. 30) in front of 110,637 fans at Michigan Stadium. Chris Perry (Advance, N.C./Fork Union Military, Va.) highlighted head coach Lloyd Carr's 100th career game at the helm of the Maize and Blue with 22 carries for 232 yards and two touchdowns. The 232 yards by Perry were the most ever by a Wolverine rusher in a season opener. Also, John Navarre (Cudahy, Wisc./Cudahy HS) completed 19 of his 33 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns. Braylon Edwards (Detroit, Mich./Bishop Gallagher HS) hauled in both Navarre scoring tosses while accumulating 78 yards on five catches.
Michigan took possession of the ball to start the game at the Michigan 28-yard line following a 28-yard kickoff return by Jeremy LeSueur (Holly Springs, Miss./Holly Springs HS). The second play from scrimmage went for 63 yards as Perry eluded a tackle in the hole and raced along the right sideline to gain first-and-goal from the nine-yard line. Following a stuffed run and two incomplete passes, the Wolverines settled for a 25-yard field goal attempt, but Adam Finley (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove HS) missed wide right at 13:19.
Michigan quickly regained control of the ball as it forced Central Michigan into a three-and-out. On the return, Steve Breaston (North Braddock, Pa./Woodland Hills HS) juked a would-be tackler and picked up his blocks along the left side to chew up 38 yards en route to the CMU 39-yard line. The Wolverines marched into the red zone for the second straight time but were forced to attempt another field goal, this one from 30 yards. Finley made good on his attempt to give U-M a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter. The 2:42 drive spanned 26 yards on eight plays.
Central Michigan's second offensive possession of the day started at its 26-yard line, and the Chippewas moved down the field on numerous short plays and a 15-yard penalty to reach the Michigan 18. An underthrown pass by CMU quarterback Jeff Perry ended up in the arms of LeSueur at the two-yard line to end the Chippewas' threat.
LeSueur's return on the interception gave U-M the ball at its own 29-yard line. Tyrece Butler (Indianapolis, Ind./Decatur Central HS) then made a 12-yard reception over the middle to keep the drive alive on third-and-six. Four plays later Michigan's receivers teamed up for a 36-yard pickup. Navarre threw a jump ball to Edwards around the 10-yard line that Edwards tipped to a waiting Breaston, who then reached the one. Following a penalty, the Wolverines finished the drive in the end zone on a six-yard fade from Navarre to Edwards in the left corner. Finley's extra point stretched U-M's lead to 10-0 with 2:25 left in the first quarter. Michigan's second scoring drive lasted 3:26 and covered 71 yards in eight plays.
After forcing Central Michigan into its second three-and-out of the game, the Michigan offense began its drive at the CMU 37-yard line, thanks to an elusive 36-yard punt return by Breaston. Perry carried the drive with runs of 13, six and 11 yards, the last of which delivered the Wolverines into the end zone after Perry battled through a tackle at the five-yard line. With the PAT, Michigan held a 17-0 advantage with 11:04 remaining in the half. The drive took just 59 seconds on four plays.
The Chippewas managed to delve into the Michigan side of the field with an eight-play drive but were halted when a fourth-down pass fell incomplete. Michigan's subsequent drive traveled from its own 34-yard line to the CMU 30. Unfortunately, Navarre had a pass over the middle intercepted by Eddie Hillery to end the drive. Again, Central Michigan drove inside the U-M 20-yard line only to fumble the ball away to Jeremy Van Alstyne (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove HS). With only 52 seconds on the clock, Navarre moved the ball downfield with completions to Butler, Calvin Bell (Simi Valley, Calif./Simi Valley HS), Breaston and Tim Massaquoi (Allentown, Pa./Parkland HS) to reach the CMU 30-yard line. Michigan was unable to add to its lead, however, as Finley's 47-yard field goal attempt fell short as time expired in the first half.
Highlighting the first half was Perry, who gained 128 yards on 13 carries and added a reception for 17 yards. Navarre completed 13 of his 24 passes for 147 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Edwards led the way for the receiving corps with three catches, while a total of eight receivers caught at least one pass in the opening half.
Coming out of halftime, Central Michigan received the ball, starting its possession at the eight-yard line after a mismanaged kickoff return. The Chippewas were efficient throughout the drive as they gained positive yardage on all nine plays, including the 27-yard touchdown run up the middle by Kenan Lawhorne at 11:44. With the PAT, CMU closed its deficit to 17-7.
Michigan quickly answered the CMU score with a seven-play, 70-yard scoring drive that stuck exclusively to the ground attack. Perry gained 53 yards, while David Underwood (Madisonville, Texas/Madisonville HS) added 17 on two carries. Perry scored his second touchdown of the game when he ran for 26 yards as he broke through the middle, cut hard to the left and out-raced the defense to the pylon. Garrett Rivas (Tampa, Fla./Jesuit HS) converted on the PAT in the first game action of his career to make it 24-7 at 9:07.
After forcing another CMU punt, Michigan broke the huddle at its own 12-yard line. Following a completion to Bell for seven yards, Perry slashed through the right side of the line for 33 yards to give him over 200 yards rushing. Navarre connected with Edwards for the second time of the day on a 48-yard touchdown pass. Following play action, Navarre hit Edwards on a corner route, and the receiver out-ran three defenders on his way to paydirt. Rivas converted the extra point to make it 31-7. The drive took just 38 seconds and covered 88 yards on three plays.
Michigan received the ball for the third time in the third quarter and reached the end zone yet again, as the Wolverines traveled 69 yards on 14 plays. U-M rushed eight times for 26 yards while Navarre completed four of his six passes for 43 yards. After a failed third-and-goal conversion from the one-yard line, U-M elected to go for the touchdown and was successful when Underwood crashed through the line to increase the score to 38-7 with five seconds left in the frame.
Backup quarterback Matt Gutierrez (Concord, Calif./De LaSalle HS) took over the reins for U-M on the first drive of the fourth quarter, which began on the 29-yard line. Gutierrez went 3-for-3 on the drive, completing two passes to Carl Tabb (Ann Arbor, Mich./Huron HS) for 12 yards and one pass to Breaston for 16 yards. Underwood contributed 27 yards on the ground and drew a 15-yard penalty for a late hit. Gutierrez capped the drive with a one-yard plunge to make the score 45-7 with 9:03 to play. The drive lasted 2:40 and took seven plays.
Michigan held CMU scoreless on its final possession before running out the clock in the final minutes.
Michigan will take on Houston next Saturday (Sept. 6) at Michigan Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon on ESPN.
Contact: David Ablauf, Jim Schneider (734) 763-4423